By John Morton
About a year after holding a Sarasota County-mandated neighborhood workshop for his proposed hotel and restaurant, Dave Balot is doing it again with a revised plan.
It will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, at St. Boniface Church, 5615 Midnight Pass Rd.
Balot went back to the drawing board in late November, cancelling his hearing before the Sarasota County Planning Commission that was set for Dec. 2. At that time, he was informed that he couldn’t remove the massive protected oak tree at the front of his lot at 5810 Midnight Pass Rd. – home of the former Wells Fargo Bank – without an OK by the county that was unlikely to come. That resulted in some tweaks to his design.
Furthermore, a pair of lawsuits against two other hotels that received county approval beyond what had previously been allowed in terms of height and density had just been filed.
Now, Balot is back to taking step one in the process.
“We are moving forward with our special exception for height – 59 feet above ground – and for hotel use,” Balot said. “Per discussions with the county staff, it was not recommended to file a comp plan amendment until the two lawsuits are decided upon.
“We plan to simply move the ball down the field and then sit on the sidelines.”
The lawsuits are fighting, in part, the eight-story, 170-room Calle Miramar hotel at the edge of the Village and the seven-story, 120-room hotel and nearby five-story parking garage at Old Stickney Point Road in regard to the county’s decision to allow unlimited density that allegedly is in violation of the county’s comprehensive plan.
By losing about 25 to 30 feet of his footprint because of the tree, Balot decided to tighten his design. As a result, in order to keep at least 101 rooms which is required for special exception status in which a restaurant and bar is allowed, his reconfiguration took his room total to 112 and a sixth floor, instead of 100 rooms and five floors as originally planned.
Currently, height is limited to 35 feet without special exception. Balot had originally sought 54 feet, but has gone 5 feet higher.
As for density, Balot is proposing twice the amount previously allowed of 26 per acre, with his number coming in at 52. His lot is 2.15 acres in size.
Another issue that’s being explored in the lawsuits involves setbacks, where an additional 1 foot of setback was required for every 4 feet beyond the 35 feet in height. That requirement is on the county’s books, but was lost in the shuffle during the approval process for the two hotels that received the green light.
It’s a second factor in Balot tightening his design.
“We’ll be bringing the fourth through sixth floors inward 6 feet to accommodate the disputed setback issue,” Balot said.
Regarding the hotel’s layout, the lobby is on the ground level, along with surface parking and a valet drop-off area.
The second floor holds a parking garage, kitchen, banquet area, and the first level of a restaurant.
The third level is home to a pool and deck, the second level of the restaurant, a courtyard, and poolside rooms.
Levels four through six feature guest rooms only.
Balot is a partner in the Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites in the Village. That operation has also applied with the county for the creation of a new hotel, in this case featuring a teardown and rebuild, going from 55 units to 170.
Balot bought the Wells Fargo property for $4.41 million in the spring of 2021.